October 18, 2022Ecosystems, Wildlife
Worth a Stop, Worth a Photo
Impalas are among the most beautiful antelopes in South Africa. Their coat, always meticulously groomed, shines in the warm sunlight, they move gracefully through the waist-high grass, and when threatened they perform elegant aerial leaps. They are one of the many treasures the African bush has to offer. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this.
By Stefanie Rach
I was recently on a game drive through the Pridelands, one of the many nature reserves around Hoedspruit. We hadn’t even been on the road for 5 minutes when we came across a herd of impala. Among the guests was a couple who were on holiday in South Africa for the first time. They had never seen impalas before and therefore enthusiastically pulled out their cameras. The guide slowed down but did not stop. “Those are impalas, everyone’s bush meat. You’ll be seeing them a lot.” With these words, he drove on.
This was not the first time I heard such a statement. To some people, this beautiful antelope is obviously not worth a stop, not worth a photo – only because impalas are numerous in the savannah.
But why is that so? Well, the guide wasn’t wrong: they are indeed everyone’s bush meat. Impalas mate in a short period of 2 to 3 weeks in May. As a result, when the rainy season starts, the young impalas are born in a 2- to 3-week period. Suddenly there are actually countless impalas everywhere in the African bush. The many young are a food source for a lot of predators and thus ensure their survival. Because of their large numbers, however, enough impalas survive to make sure that they can be encountered everywhere, that people can stop to admire their grace.
Maybe the guide should have stopped for a moment and told this to his guests.
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